Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. In Heroes Reborn: Fantastic Four #4 (a.k.a. vol. 2 #4), in which superstar artist Jim Lee continues to recreate the Marvel Universe by making it just like the regular Marvel Universe.
Gimmie a gimmick: This issue had a variant Christmas-themed cover, drawn by Whilce Portacio.
We begin in the African nation of Wakanda where a Wakandan soldier is killed after investigating a strange object that fell from the sky. Then we cut to the “concrete jungle” of New York, where Johnny is being chased Beatles-style by all his female fans. He sees the FF’s signal flare in the sky, and he flies off. Ben is also out in the city. He sees a woman he thinks is Alicia, but is mistaken. He too sees the signal flare.
Johnny arrives at the Baxter Building, where Sue announces that she was just testing the signal flare. Inside the building, Reed continues to investigate the mysterious space anomaly from vol. 2 issue #1. He says an object from the anomaly has crash-landed within Wakanda. Reed and Sue fly the team’s brand-new Fantasticar to Wakanda. They’re met by two Wakandan stealth ships. The pilots escort them to the city, where they are to have audience with the king. Back in New York, Ben says Alicia called, and then he and Johnny discover a homeless man has snuck inside the building. The man pulls out a gun and shoots at them, but then says he needs Reed’s help.
Reed and Sue meet with King T’Challa of Wakanda, who says he too is investigating the anomaly. He dons the garb of the Black Panther, saying he is not just king but “warrior avatar” of the Wakandans. The heroes investigate the jungle along with a bunch of Wakandan warriors. They are attacked by a mysterious lizard creature, who leaves behind an explosive device. Sue protects her and Reed with a force field.
Reed, Sue, and Black Panther continue to investigate, discovering a strange aircraft landing in the jungle, piloted by Wyatt Wingfoot, who in the Heroes Reborn continuity is a corrupt S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who betrayed the FF in the first issue. The three heroes sneak aboard the aircraft, only to be knocked out by a neural disrupter. Taking them prisoner, Wyatt flies off.
Reed, Sue, and Black Panther wake up in a strange place. Black Panther says he heightened senses tell him they are no longer in Wakanda, or in Africa. They turn to face Dr. Doom, who welcomes them to Latveria. It’s revealed that Reed and Doom know each other. Doom says he will prove himself to be Reed’s intellectual superior, and that none of them will leave Latveria alive.
Unstable molecule: Reed and Sue already know the Black Panther, having met at a “pan-African economic summit” one year earlier.
Fade out: This is the first time Sue uses her force field powers in Heroes Reborn continuity. A caption tells us she’s been working on developing this power between last issue and this one.
Clobberin’ time: Ben has a friend named Richie, whom he’s hired to drive him around New York. Ben destroys Richie’s car by jumping out of it when he thinks he sees Alicia, and then tells Richie he’ll invest in a convertible. The Marvel Wiki has no entry for Richie, while the Marvel Appendix fan site has an entry on a Ritchie character who appeared in Thor #332, who kinda/sorta looks like this character. (My theory: Could Richie be Franklin Richards, subconsciously checking in on this pocket universe he’s created?)
Flame on: Johnny dons a red FF uniform in this issue, similar to the one he wore for a while in the ‘70s. He says this is to help sell Fantastic Four toys, so he’s back to being a money/marketing guy in this continuity.
Commercial break: Bone claws!
Trivia time: Johnny says Toy Biz is making the FF toys. Toy Biz was a real company who produced Marvel action figures in the ‘90s. Marvel eventually bought Toy Biz, renaming it Marvel Toys, only for it to then go out of business when Marvel hit some financial woes.
Fantastic or frightful? After three issues with too much plot, here’s one with very little plot. Jim Lee’s versions of Black Panther and Dr. Doom look pretty cool.
Next: Latveria is lovely in the springtime.
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